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Fix / Friday - April 24

This is a good chart from a surprisingly average FT article. I never saw the sense of FANG - Netflix seems unrelated to GAFA other than it’s digital and the stock price has done well. The logic behind GAFA for me was that here were 4 companies that - even in 2011 - were using Mobile to reshape their business and peoples’ lives - and compete with each other. As they were bossing the market, GAFA worked well. It’s no surprise that a subscriber driven content business will diverge from ad driven businesses when the ad market collapses.

The main content of the article is this quote from a Moffett Nathanson report ( can anyone share these with me?) ;

Although Alphabet and Facebook may seem like safe places to hide given their market dominance and strong balance sheets, we believe they are not immune from worsening ad trends, especially given their exposure to the long tail of SMBs. We believe Twitter and Snap are even more at risk from marketers consolidating budgets towards the core ad platforms and away from more experimental/fringe ad buys during this crisis.

Using recent survey data from the IAB, we are projecting ad growth to decelerate by a staggering -2,600 bps to -2,700 bps for Alphabet and Facebook over the next two quarters. This would be a faster and steeper drop than the -2,100 bps decline in digital ad growth during the 2008-09 financial crisis. We do not anticipate ad growth to get back on trend to normalised levels until 2Q 2021 when these platforms begin to lap the 2020 declines.

Importantly, we are not projecting a sharp catch up in ad spending in 2021 to make up for lost revenues in 2020. The 2020 budgets that have been gutted are gone and won’t miraculously return in the future. Accordingly, we are lowering our 2021 revenue estimates by -12.5 per cent for Facebook and -10 per cent for Alphabet. Given the high fixed-cost nature to their business models, we project even steeper 2021 EBITDA declines in the range of -20 per cent.

Again I question whether it’s not better to rely on 5 or 6 million SMBs for performance driven revenue rather than the 10s of thousand of big brands that use Agencies? With iconic advertisers like Coke pulling their spend saying We've developed and determined that in this initial phase there is limited effectiveness to broad-based brand marketing when will we see brand advertising earn it’s budget again? Especially when the collective talent of the business seems to be pushing formulaic stuff like this.

I do think that Google and Facebook are going to suffer like everyone else ( or maybe everyone except Amazon) but when the market comes back I think they will be as strong or even stronger.


With the demise of Cookies there is lots of action and investment around possible alternatives - this is a vendor point of view on Dynamic IDs and it’s interesting that Telcos are still looking for a place at the Adtech table.

The new Martech map - looking like an aerial view of Venice after the flooding - shows the real problem with this industry. Too many me too companies, created by a flood of VC money and a SAAS model driven by the adtech version of Trail Commissions. One probable outcome of our current crisis is smart brands taking the time to Mario Kondo their Adtech

An Agency veteran makes a good case for a reset of the online ad market - hard to disagree with much. Why not prepare for this rethinking by investing some time learning more about adtech - The Trade Desk have made their training free.


The q1 results for Snap look really good with all the numbers up - users, time spent and ad revenue - although that was hit in March like the rest of the market. The interview with Evan Spiegel we shared last week showed his focus on content and AR - and the results supported that. Especially this quote from the Investors call; total daily time spent by Snapchatters over the age of 35 watching Discover content doubled year-over-year in Q1 2020


The Q1 results for Netflix are good - and with the crisis they will be one of the few winners - as the FANG chart above shows. But is this as good as it gets? As they acknowledged in the investor call, when the crisis ends viewing will fall and the market will be full of competitors. Right now they are buying up any content that's finished ( including studio movies) so protecting their depth. All the streaming services have loads of content in development but everything is on pause, so no one knows when this new content will come on stream. And is it any good? A long FT piece asks if we have missed the golden age of TV. One view is that it was 2015/16 and since then quantity has won out over quality.

There is also a question over the business model. For the last 70 years TV has been largely funded by advertising. This changed a little with cable providers (like Sky) and then with HBO and now Netflix. But the idea that a number of players can spend $billions on content and make it all back through subscriptions looks a little fragile, when most major economies are expecting record unemployment levels.

We’ll get into this more on Wednesday in our Fix/newTV newsletter but this twitter thread about Barry Diller is worth thinking about. Remember Diller was hugely successful in the TV business before building Internet companies like Expedia, Match, Tinder and more. It's framed around Quibi but applies generally to streaming.

On Quibi the jury is still out. Latest downloads are said to be 1.7m which isn't bad. The App has a 3.4 rating on the appstore - fairly evenly split between 5* from people who like the content and 1* from people who want to be able to watch on other devices and think it’s too pricy. But hearing one of their three marketing leads (?) is leaving doesn't sound positive.

They are ad supported and have sold all their inventory - some worry that Peacock which launched last week may suffer from the advertisers strike.

The coalescing of Programmatic and newTV continues with SamsungAds now working with SpotX, Wurl and Amagi to enable Agencies to buy OTT programmatically.


The lead story in Wednesdays midweek Fix / Merchant (catch up here) was the big news that Google are now offering free listings in the Shopping tab, together with a PayPal partnership

This feels like a big deal and a clear opportunity for all Merchants to upload their product catalogue

We also covered the problems faced by Department Stores and this good Mary Portas article argues it’s the end for mediocre malls and that, whilst the quantity of retailers will fall, the quality will rise.

Sounds like our thinking on Brand Cathedrals. One of best enablers of this is the team at Appear Here; enabling Merchants to test retail concepts without long leases. This Shopify interview with their founder is a good read - especially about what's next;

One thing we did with Fix / Merchant is add suggested actions - another one would be to check this list of guidelines on conversion - lots of practical tips. My bete noir is #15 in Cart guidelines - removing the promo code box usually shows an immediate improvement.


We’ve been talking about live streaming for a while and it's now clear that WFH has really accelerated. VC firm A16Z have a good round up of who is doing what, that is well worth reading. Cameo was mentioned last month as a place for D list celebrities but they are now picking up a slightly better class with B list doing paid for shout outs etc. Think about that alongside the latest big thing in the tech world Clubhouse - an audio chat room app. Lots of potential.

Things change so much and keeping aware of culture is so important. It's why we are so interested in MSCHF - have you seen Boomer email yet? What about Mr Beast - gaining 60k new subscribers a day? This is a good break down of how he develops content.

And a Fix friend who wrote the definitive piece on Old Town Road has a really good piece on how people like Drake are using TikTok to market their music.

If this all sounds a little flakey remember that Dettol understood how people use TikTok and developed a brand appropriate idea that was bespoke for the platform. And got 80 billion views. That’s modern marketing.

This thread gets into how TikTok ads work and how to make the most of them. Some obvious stuff and some is more surprising.


Magic Leap have had no luck in their search for a buyer and plan to lay off around 1,000 employees

Animal Crossing has put Nintendo right back in contention in games and an Activist Investor Places $1 Billion Bet on Nintendo Becoming Media Giant

Facebook invests $5.7bn with India’s richest man to become largest minority shareholder in fast-growing telecoms operator Reliance Jio.

Mary Meeker report on the effects of Coronavirus - with some ideas of what the new normal will look like. Rory Sutherland has some good thinking on how the new normal is a chance to improve the ad industry, In my podcast with Rory we talk a lot about the challenges of Agencies - an hour well spent.

VC Mark Andreessen wrote a call to arms for VCs IT'S TIME TO BUILD. It's a good piece that has been met with some cynicism. But this piece on another VC firm Kleiner Perkins shows how VC can work - a 2006 fund of $200m focused on pandemic preparedness funded a number of companies now at the forefront of the fight against CoronaVirus

Finally...this week would have seen our AdTech Perfect Storm event but obviously we postponed and refunded all the tickets - and started planning what's next. You can get a sense of what we missed with this Podcast with Richard Kramer who was scheduled to talk about the state of the market. Always really insightful and a good turn of phrase. We hope to have him involved in our next event - and he is a participant in our Guild too.

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